Tag Archives: Grain Free

Halfway there – 21 Day Sugar Detox

Ed and I are already halfway through our 21 Day Sugar Detox! This round has brought a few different challenges than the first did, as well as some new opportunities. You know how necessity is the mother of invention? Well, it’s something like that. Here’s how things are going so far:

Weight loss: I’ve lost what was left of my pregnancy pounds and then some. However, I met that on day 2 of the detox, so it probably had more to do with my pre-existing eating patterns.

Detox symptoms: Ed didn’t appear to have any negative reactions, but I suffered some cold/flu symptoms last week. I didn’t experience this during my first round. My best guess for this is that the first round was with the ebook guidelines, which suggested an additional starchy carb for EACH MEAL for the nursing modification, while the current guidelines only suggests a starchy carb at least once a day. I don’t have an intellectual problem with eating more starches (I normally have a moderate carb diet already), but since Ed isn’t on an energy modification, it’s usually easier just to steam up some cauliflower for both of us instead of preparing a starch source for myself in addition to everything. Thus, I’ve been eating lower carb than I normally do.

Positive reactions: Ed’s moods have improved and we’ve both been better at eating more vegetables.

Cheats?: Of course. Last week Ed ate a jelly donut at work without thinking, and when he forgot his lunch today he ate at Taco Bell, later noting that everything tasted very processed and super-sweet. My cheats have really been “bending” of the rules. For example, 2 pieces of approved fruit instead of 1, a full 16 oz of kombucha instead of 8, or level 1 approved rice at the Thai restaurant even though I’m following level 2. Today I ran out of green-tipped bananas and supplemented with my frozen overripe bananas. THAT tasted REALLY sweet! Other than that, I think the biggest cheat was the Thai restaurant. We both ordered red curry and stuck with rice, but I’m positive the sauce had sugar in it. Ah well.

Food I’m missing: Chocolate. Wooo boy.

Best detox meal: PIZZA. I made this cauliflower crust and loaded it with peppers, spinach, mushrooms, olives, Italian sausage, tomato sauce, and a FULL POUND of whole milk mozzarella. It was so beautiful I instagrammed it, and Ed said it was better than Dominos or Pizza Hut!

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Worst recipe: I’m working on a tortilla recipe. It’s still in the fail box in my mind, but I’m not giving up!

Best recipe adaptation: Alton Brown’s Shepherd’s Pie. I’ve used this recipe for my Shepherd’s Pie for years since the flavors are so spot-on, so when I was inspired to make a 21DSD-friendly meat pie, I went back to this recipe for guidance. In the end I made quite a few changes. Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb, so technically this would be closer to a Cottage Pie since I used beef. I also wanted to make my meat stretch, so I added diced mushrooms and … chicken livers! I’ve been meaning to get more organ meats into my diet, and grinding livers and adding it to ground beef is both nutritious and economical, and it makes no difference in taste. I changes a few other ingredients to be more detox-friendly, and I did make two different toppings for Ed and myself–a cauli-mash topping for him and a Japanese sweet potato topping for me!

 

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 Shepherd’s (Cottage) Pie  – (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Paleo, Primal, 21DSD, WAPF)
Adapted from Alton Brown
Serves 6

*For sweet potato topping:

2 lbs Japanese sweet potato
2 tbsp butter, ghee, tallow, or lard
1/4 cup milk type drink of your choice
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg yolk

For cauliflower topping:

1 head cauliflower
1/4 cup chicken or beef stock
2 tbsp butter, ghee, tallow, or lard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 egg yolk

For the filling:

1 tbsp butter, ghee, tallow, or lard
1 small chopped onion
4 medium carrots, peeled and diced small
1/2 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb liver, finely diced either by hand or food processor, or ground (I used chicken, but I have it on good authority that lamb liver is great as well)
2 tbsp arrowroot flour**
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup beef or chicken stock
2 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp fish sauce (Red Boat brand is sugar free and therefore 21DSD-friendly)
2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tsp thyme leaves
1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

If using sweet potato, peel and chop your sweet potatoes into medium chunks. In a large pot, add the chopped potatoes and enough water to cover. Bring to boil and allow to cook until potatoes pierce easily with a fork. Using either a potato masher, a food processor, or hand mixer, mash or puree the potatoes roughly. Allow to cool a bit. Add the butter, milk, salt, and egg yolk and continue to mash or puree until smooth. Some small chunks are fine.

If using cauliflower, roughly chop the cauliflower, discarding the steams and leaves. In a large or saucepan, add the stock and cauliflower and cover with a lid. Bring to boil, then lower temperature to a strong simmer. Cook until cauliflower easily pierces with a fork. Drain liquid and allow to cool a bit. Add butter, salt, pepper, and egg yolk, and puree or mash with a food processor, potato masher, or hand mixer.

Set a large saute pan over medium/medium-high heat and add butter. When melted, add onions, carrots, and mushrooms and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, for several minutes until the onions soften and become fragrant. Add ground beef and liver and allow to cook, again stirring occasionally until meat is fully cooked and incorporated. Sprinkle the arrowroot flour, salt, and pepper over top of the meat. Stir to mix into the meat, and allow to cook for several more minutes. Add the stock, tomato paste, fish sauce, rosemary, and thyme and allow to cook until the sauce has thickened somewhat, which should take about 5 more minutes. Mix in the peas and remove the pan from the heat.

In a casserole dish, pour the meat filling and then pour the topping atop the filling, using a spatula or back of a spoon to spread the topping evenly, smoothing out the edges to create something of a seal for the juices.

Place casserole dish in the oven and allow to bake for about 25-35 minutes, until topping is lightly browned. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

*Sweet potatoes are only appropriate for the energy modifications during the 21 Day Sugar Detox.

**Arrowroot flour is OK during the 21 Day Sugar Detox when used in sauce-thickening applications such as this one.

 

 

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats 2012

 

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Here begins the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats for 2012! Remember when I participated last year? Well it’s time again! Hard to believe it’s really twelve weeks until Christmas!

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I decided to try something new this year. Last year most of my entries for the blog hop were gluten free (the red velvet cheesecake brownies being the lone exception). This year, I will continue to make all my entries gluten free, but I will also be experimenting with some grain-free options. They are certainly not low-carb in most cases, and keep in mind, treats are treats and I will treat them as such. I make no presumption that these are “healthy,” though I do choose to use real food ingredients and keep dietary limitations in mind. When it all comes down to it, these are for pure enjoyment and seasonal celebration. As they should be!

Now let’s get on to it!

To start things off this year, we’ve got to head right into the pumpkin. And for the record, making these cupcakes required the last of my first stash of canned pumpkin for the season. One of the things I love about pumpkin is that it’s essentially pumpkin season four months out of the year. These translate well from fall right into Christmas time! The fact that I eat pumpkin year-round is entirely beside the point…

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Grain-Free Pumpkin Cupcakes

Adapted from Elana’s Pantry
Makes 1 dozen

1.5 cups raw almonds
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
3 tbsp applesauce
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp molasses
1 cup pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or combination of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor or high speed blender, combine the almonds, arrowroot, salt, and baking soda together until you get as fine of a meal as possible without turning it into weirdly seasoned almond butter. Then add all the rest of the ingredients and process for an additional 2-5 minutes. This will help smooth the mixture.

Fill a cupcake pan lined with papers with the batter, filling each cup about 2/3 full.

Bake for 20-22 minutes. I bake these for a bit longer than I do flour-based cupcakes. This helps the protein structure set a bit better, I think.

Allow to cool completely before frosting. I’ve learned that almond flour-based baked goods tend to taste better the longer they are out of the oven.

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Classic Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick butter
1/2 package of cream cheese
1 lb powdered sugar (normal powdered sugar contained cornstarch, making this not grain-free. However, organic varieties sometimes use arrowroot in lieu of cornstarch. Or you can blend your own granulated/turbinado/coconut sugar for makeshift powdered sugar)
1 tsp vanilla

In a mixer, whip butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until soft and smooth. Then slowly add the powdered sugar until all is incorporated. Smear or pipe onto cooled cupcakes!

 

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Here are my submissions to last year’s blog hop!

Oatmeal-Apple Cookies
Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies
Nutella Cookies
Gingerbread truffles
Aztec Brownie
Orange-Cranberry Scones
Chai Cupcakes

 

 And check out all these other lovely blogs!



Food Photography at Home

It’s a shame I don’t do more photography. My bachelor’s degree is in art, and photography was one of my main forms of expression. I’d have to same time has passed and made it too easy for me to forget my camera. As a result, I’m underpracticed. So I’ve decided that’s going to change!

I spent some of my birthday money on this book I’ve been lusting for a while now. Plate to Pixel. It’s a book on very basic food photography—a concept that was barely even mentioned in my advanced photography class.

I’ve also decided to transform our guest room into my personal photography studio. I fell in love with the window in there the moment we toured the house, and Ed mentioned that he was disappointed that we hardly used the room at all. I still have all the guest room furniture in there, but I’ve moved stuff around so I have room for my photography equipment by the window. Before now, any time I wanted to take food photos, I had to drag furniture around my dining room, pull out a mess of stuff, and have to clean up afterwards (or leave unsightly clutter in my most minimalist-designed room in the house). Now that I have a separate space, I can just leave my stuff and close the door!

(Forgive blurry iPhone photos. As you can see, my SLR was otherwise occupied in what is now my new favorite thing—shooting tethered!)

 

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Finally my AWANA trophies come out of the closet and serve some purpose!

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I normally think that any bed larger than a twin looks tacky when shoved into a corner, but considering function was priority over fashion in this case, I made the move. I’m glad I did though! Maybe it’s just the fact that it’s a full-sized bed, so not huge, but I think it looks better this way! When the bed is made, of course…

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One of the first things I experimented my new skills on was a flourless mocha cake I took to a church function the other day. Check out the results of that shoot!

 

And my favorite…!

 

I think it would be cruel to leave you without the recipe to this beauty, so enjoy!

 

Flourless Mocha Layer Cake
Adapted from the Southern Living Christmas Cookbook

Cake:
1 cup chocolate chips (I used dark)
1/4 cup strong coffee
5 large eggs, divided
3/4 cup sugar (I used sucanat, but coconut sugar, turbinado, or regular granulated will work just fine)

Cream filling:
1 cup whipping cream
~1/2 tsp espresso powder or instant coffee granules (1/2 packet of Starbucks Via brew works too)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar (plus more for dusting)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Lightly oil the bottoms of two or three (I only have two) round cake pans. Then, cut parchment paper to fit into the bottom of the pans. You do NOT want to skip this step. This is a fragile cake and trying to pull the cake out of the pan without the parchment paper on the bottom will make the cake fall apart. I know from personal experience. Don’t skip.

Microwave the chocolate chips and the coffee together in 30 second intervals, stirring EACH TIME, until the mixture is smooth and chocolate is melted. Set aside and allow to cool.

Whip the egg whites together until strong peaks form. In a separate bowl, whip the egg yolks and the 3/4 cup of sugar together until smooth and the yolks have lightened in color. Stir the melted chocolate in with the egg yolk mixture. Then, gently fold in 1/3 of the stiff egg whites into the chocolate batter. ONCE INCORPORATED (don’t obsess over getting it all mixed in, lest you break down all the air bubbles and the cake will be nasty and flat), add in half of what’s left of the stiff egg whites, gently folding. Then, add the last. The batter should be light and airy. Don’t worry about visible eggy air bubbles. It’s better to err on the side of not-combined-enough.

Pour the batter evenly among the three cake pans. Or you can do two layers. Or you can do what I do and put 1/3 of the batter into each of my TWO round pans, bake them, empty them, and then bake the last layer separately. Remember that parchment lining? Don’t skip it!

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove pans and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before de-panning. The sides of the cake will separate from the pan.

While the cake is baking, in a mixing bowl, combine the cream, espresso powder, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Whip at a high speed with your mixer until stiff peaks form. You may want to taste it to see if the strength of the coffee flavor is to your liking.

Once the cakes are cool, de-pan them one-by-one, peeling off the parchment paper, and layer them with the cream filling in between them. Sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar or cocoa powder, if desired.

Summer Fruit Tart

About two weeks ago, I ate nectarines and plums for the very first time. This may seem a shocker for some, but here in Texas, peaches are the “big deal” fruit of the season. However, most peaches around these parts aren’t really ready until July. But the nectarines, plums, and apricots, however, are ready for the picking.

When Edgar first ate a nectarine (same time I did), he confessed that he may like nectarines more than peaches! (To that I responded that it wasn’t peach season yet, so he couldn’t really make that assessment. Winking smile )

When I first ate on, I realized that I needed to turn nectarines into dessert! Stat!

When the sun comes out every year as the mercury rises, I think we all tend to stash away our chocolate desserts and reach for the fresh fruits of the seasons. Since many people I know disliked cooked fruit, I came up with this fruit tart that is only about 2/3 cooked. And given my recent efforts toward simplicity in cooking and baking, I decided to make the crust with almond meal and sweeten the entire dessert with only honey and fruit. Thus, this dessert is grain-free and wholesome. And given the simple construction of this confection, you can easily swap out portions to cater to your own tastes! Red current jam or whipped cream instead of lemon curd? Berries instead of stone fruits? Go ahead and experiment!

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Summer Fruit Tart

8 oz (about 2 cups) almond meal
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
4 oz (1/4 c) solid coconut oil
1 egg
1 T honey

1 full recipe Lemon curd (I followed this recipe exactly. In the interest of respect for other food bloggers, I’m not listing the recipe here. Follow the link and you’ll find the original recipe!)

About 3 each nectarines and plums, pitted and cut into wedges
About 1 tbsp honey. If too thick to spread with a basting brush, thin only SLIGHTLY with warm water.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the almond meal, salt, and cinnamon until integrated. Then add the coconut oil, in pieces, and cut it into the almond meal mixture with a fork until the mix resembles a very coarse meal. In a separate, small bowl, whisk together the egg and honey. Then add the egg mix to the almond meal mix and combine until the dough is one well-integrated ball. Set aside.

Line an 8.5×11 baking pan with parchment paper (or omit this step entirely and use a tart pan! In hindsight I think the recipe would be even better this way). You may have to cut the paper narrow to fit inside the pan. This will be used like a sling to help lift the tart out of the pan later. Take the dough and press it into the bottom of the pan on top of the parchment paper. It will be a thin crust and you may have to use a spoon to spread it.

Bake the crust for 12-15 minutes until firm and just barely turning brown on the edges. Allow the crust to cool on a cooling rack for an hour.

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Once cooled, apply the full lemon curd recipe on top of the crust. It will be a little runny. It’s okay. Call it rustic and lick the curd off your fingers when nobody is looking.

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Arrange the nectarine and plum wedges in a pretty pattern on top of the curd. Then brush honey on top of the fruit to glisten!

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Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Enjoy!

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